Fanatic for fish! Yep. I got the bug

You may remember my post about how I ended up with a 30 gallon fresh water aquarium.  If not, here’s the link to refresh you’re memory.  Clearly, I had not thought it out.  I brought home the tank, started stocking a few days later and thought, okay.  I’m done.  Not so much.

Fish keeping is NOT a plug and play hobby.  It requires diligent attention to Ammonia and Nitrate and Nitrite levels, religious water changes, correct food (and not too much of it) and selecting fish that are compatible to live with each other at a prescribed temperature, adequate filtration and so much more.  Suffice it to say, I’ve learned a LOT since I started on this journey the first part of February.  I’m happy to say, that despite the work involved (probably 2 hours a week at this point but I expect that to decrease in time) I love being a fish keeper.  I love my fish.  But it takes a village, it seems, to educate me.  That and a lot of reading.  I am indebted to my friend Jeff, to Cole and Ed at the Coral Reef Tropical Fish Store and an online community – and the kind, knowledgeable people there who held my hand through the process of cycling the tank (getting all the chemicals balanced) and teaching me responsible fish keeping.

Yes, I said responsible.  You really have to do your homework if you want healthy happy fish – and I do.

So without further ado … here are some shots I took to show you my fully stocked tank in all its glory.  My 30 gallon fresh water tank contains 3 male gouramis, 3 platys (1 male, 2 female) 3 dwarf neon rainbows, 3 cory catfish, 3 fan tail guppies (1 male, 2 females) 1 betta,  and 1 pleco. I may still get 3 more dwarf neon rainbows but I want to see how the tank handles the current bio-load before I make that decision.  I don’t want to make the mistake of overstocking.

The tank is artificially planted (not brave enough to try live plants yet) and is considered a community tank because I have a variety of species that I’ve carefully selected to live together peacefully.  (Side note – I already had to take 3 pineapple swordtails back to the store for adoption because they picked at my gouramis and Turbo, the betta, relentlessly.)  Another note:  It’s very difficult to get good shots of fish.  They don’t respond to the: STAY command.  But then Margaret, the dog, doesn’t respond to it either 😉


Male fan tail guppy, 3 dwarf neon rainbows. When the light hits the rainbows just right, they are iridescent all over – like the tail of the one rainbow in this photo and the body of the guppy.  Beautiful!

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Orange platy, Rainbow gourami, peppered-yellow platy, striped gourami, 2 female guppies to the bottom right of this photo all hanging out at the top of the tank.  Most likely hoping for food!

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Gorgeous shot of my rainbow gourami. They use those trailing feelers like arms. It’s so cute when a fish gets too close to their personal space – those thread-thin feelers shoot out as if to say: Back off buster!

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This pretty little powder blue gourami is adorable.  I sucked this poor little guy up in the vacuum the first time I did a water change.  He got stuck in the hose and hubby and I had to cut it apart to get him out.  I was so afraid I’d scarred him for life LOL but he’s a tough little guy and he’s doing just fine.  He does, however, hide in the far corner of the tank now when he sees the hose coming.

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3 dwarf neon rainbows. This photo doesn’t do them justice but it was a nice shot of them all together so i took it. When the light hits them just right their fins are bright orange and their bodies glow neon blue. Stunning

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One of my 3 little cutie pies. Three-lined cory catfish, about 2 inches in size.  I didn’t think I wanted catfish at first but someone on the fish forum referred to them as ‘cute, busy little guys’ so I decided to give them a try.  So glad I did.  I LOVE them.  They’re little clowns, always tumbling over each other and always on the move.

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You remember Turbo, the betta?  He loves his new digs in the big 30 gallon tank

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Nice shot of Gus, the male guppy. He’s so pretty.

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This is my Pleco, Pete. Maybe I should have called him Houdini because he’s always disappearing on me. I swear he can make himself invisible. I’ll be looking all over for him and then next thing I know, he’s just there, right in front of me. He cleans the sides of the tank and just sort of hangs around.

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He loves it when I drop in a piece of zucchini or watermelon. He’ll suck on it all day :o) He’s a little guy now, only about 2 inches, but he’ll eventually get too big for this 30 gallon tank. My local fish store guy, Ed Fisher (yes, his name is Fisher!) said he’ll happily trade for a smaller pleco when the time comes. I’ll hate to see Pete go but know he’ll be happier in a bigger tank some day.

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Here’s Mr. striped gourami being camera shy. This is one gorgeous fish. IMO he’s the prettiest one in the tank.

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Remember Mad Max the betta? He used to live in a little divided tank with Turbo but I learned the error of my ways. That tank was way too small for either one of them. He now lives in his own 5 gallon tank with Hector, the snail. You can see Hector on the upper part of the tank a little left of center. He does a lot of hanging around but man oh man, does he get around that tank. Every time I peek inside he’s traveled to another area. As you can see, I moved my little snorkelers and mermaids to this tank :o)  Oh – and those are live plants.  I figured I could give them a try in this small tank and see how things works out.  So far, so good

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And finally … What? Wait. That’s not a fish. That’s not even a CATfish.  That’s a smug cat who didn’t want to be outdone by a bunch of mice with fins – or so he told me.

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Okay.  There you have it.  My new addiction.  And I don’t think I’m finished yet.  Yikes.  I have my eye on a 46 gallon bow front tank with a really nice stand that I’d love to have in my office.  We’ll see.  I spend so much time in my office I figure that an aquarium – to calm and sooth me as I’m working – is the perfect choice for a writer on deadline, right?

So – anyone out there ever try their hand at fish keeping?  Anyone have fish now?  If so, what have you got?  And what advice have you got for me?  And if not fish, what’s your most recent addiction/passion?  I’d love to hear all about it.


About cindygerard

Cindy Gerard is a New York Times best-selling author of action packed romantic suspense novels. Learn more about Cindy at
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32 Responses to Fanatic for fish! Yep. I got the bug

  1. Virginia says:

    We have always had fish. We have a 75 gal tank set up in the living room and a large Koi pond in the back yard.Hubby’s fish. The tank in the living room has African Cichlids, a Placo, a Clown Loach which are very cool fish and easy to keep. The African’s are a different story they are a little on the mean side, so the female will carry their babies in her mouth, kind of need they want eat for a week when carrying their babies. In the pond in the yard we have several large Koi and one gold fish. They will eat out of your hand.

  2. Cindy Gerard says:

    Hi Virgina. 75 galon, huh? I wish I had room. I’m thinking about adding a 46 gal bow front to my office. I spend all day and some evenings in the office and I think I’d really enjoy it. And I’m REALLY thinking about Discus. Have to research extensively though as it seems they are difficult to keep. had any experiece with them?

  3. Linda says:

    So this time you cannot blame the steroids… they are very nice looking fish. And I must commend Buddy and Sly for not being overly jealous of the fish, and taking them out. I will stick with my one little Beta blue boy who is doing nicely in his small tank that also has a live plant in it. My addiction is feeding the squirrels and birds in the back yard at the clinic… I spend way to much making sure there is food aplenty for the squirrels (especially peanuts in the mix) and birds. But it is nice to be able to watch the feeders. Enjoy your fish and good luck with all of the tanks.

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      I love my feeders too, Linda. We have tried to lure cardinals to our back yard for years but for some reason have never had success. Well – yea! this year we have a nesting pair. I LOVE seeing those bright streaks of red and hearing their songs. I’m hoping this is the start of a tradition – that they will come back and nest each year and bring their babies with them .

      • Linda says:

        Cardinals are somewhat picky about the birds they hang out with.. if there are a lot of Blue Jays they will leave. We have four breeding pair that hang at the clinic along with a number of doves and finches, trying to figure out what to plant to attract hummingbirds.

  4. jokennedy says:

    I’m so glad to hear there’s another fish geek in the romance world! I’ve kept fish since I was 12, and now have a 75 gallon tank. It was a community tank but then my firemouth cichlids had babies and took over. They are fascinating; both parents care for the young and fight off any threats. Of course, it’s not exactly calming to watch the life-and-death drama going on all day!

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      Oh yeah!! another one of me :o) I’ve thought alot about cichlids but I don’t know if I can handle their aggresive tendancies. We will see. Thinking long and hard about my 46 gal bow front (notice I said MY and I haven’t even bought it yet??) I may go for bozmani rainbows. but then I like angels … and on and one and on…

  5. Beautiful fish!
    And no, we don’t have them. Made hubby get rid of his tanks…saltwater tanks. Too much work to keep them looking like I wanted them to look…clean and clear glass.

  6. Cindy Gerard says:

    Every once in a while I get tempted by the salt water tank syndrome :o) But usually I come to my senses. They (fish people) keep telling me that salt water is much improved and not nearly as labor intensive as it once was. I don’t think I believe them. I think I’d be better off sticking with fresh.

  7. Leanne says:

    Cindy, your fish are beautiful! When I was a kid, my piano teacher had an aquarium and she often tried to unload her guppies on her students. I took some one time, but clearly wasn’t ready for the responsibility. We set them free via the commode. I think I -might- could handle a Beta.:) Good for you! xo

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      They are really pretty but a lot of work. If you go for a betta be sure to get him the biggest bowl you can handle. They are very easy to care for but they need a little more room than the fish stores let on :o(

  8. Raising your own sushi. I love it. When’s dinner?

  9. michelehauf says:

    Wow! Looks like too much work for me. But great rewards, eh?

    Now why do I have the urge to go watch Finding Nemo?

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      I know. Nemo is such a cutie. but that’s a fish for a salt water aquarium. I’m strictly fresh water. Too many complications with salt. But yes, lots of rewards. I love my fishies.

  10. loisgreiman says:

    So beautiful. I used to keep an aquarium, but I like to think I’m mature enough now to know when I’m incapable of the putting in the hours necessary to keep it looking great. Yours is gorgeous. I think you should take the salt water plunge, just so we can see pics of THAT. 🙂

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      Thanks Lois but no on the salt water. That’s very scarey stuff. I’m not sure I could keep a salt water tank healthy and the fishes happy. It’s hard enough with fresh water. I’ll post more pictures when I get my BIGGER tank :o)

  11. So beautiful and calming to have around – or at least that’s what Buddy what’s us to think about HIM! Be suspicious, very suspicious. I remember my niece noticing one of their goldfish missing. About 2 hours later she came to her mother in tears. She was carrying the family cat and blubbered, “Mom, Fluffy’s breath smells like tunafish.”

  12. Cindy, your fish are gorgeous! I love the great photos, but can’t imagine all the hours it must have taken to learn all of this and then set it up so beautifully. I agree with Lois–I look forward to your salt water adventures and then seeing those photos, too! 🙂

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      Thanks Rox but double no on the salt water. As I said, too scary for me. I worry about these guys enough. Don’t want to add salt to the equation. Fingers crossed I don’t have a weak moment …

  13. Tara Janzen says:

    OMG – you named the fish 🙂 Do I see a children’s story in your future? Or something hot and suspenseful like THE GOURAMI NEMESIS? Or a new BOI series BETTA OPS INC. ?

  14. Cindy, what gorgeous fish! I can see why you’re hooked. Boy, did they pick a good “fish mama!” My passion is gardening. Though the flowers stay put, each season brings an ever-changing landscape of blooms. Thanks for sharing the pictures and for the delightful commentary!

  15. Kylie Brant says:

    Love the blue one! And the spotted one on the bottom. The cat looks like it’s just biding its time…

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      Which blue one? Turbo is the betta with the long fins (he’s a darker blue) then there’s the powder blue Gourami. They’re both pretty cute. And you’re right about Buddy. He’s patiently waiting … I think he thinks one of them is going to jump out of the water and into his mouth.

  16. I love your tank, Cindy! We had a tank when i was growing up, and we’ve had them off and on in our own house over lo, these many years. Most recently we had a betta who lived more than 5 years. His bowl was on a centrally located counter, so he always close by. He grew quite a bit over the years. Don’t know what their life expectancy is, but I think he dies of old age.

    One of our kids’ favorites was a ghost knife fish. They’re shy, grow to be quite long, and you feed them by hand.

    • Cindy Gerard says:

      5 years is a long time for a betta, Kathy. YOu must have taken great care of him. Our two seem to be pretty healthy and happy. Hope they all stay that way. So far, no fatalities :o) I hope to keep it that way

  17. Cheryl says:

    I have a peco too; he’s a very hardy soul. The rest of my pet fish don’t seem to last very long. I don’t think it has anything to do with the two cats who constantly are watching them and occasionally dipping into the tank. Hmm… maybe there is something to that? Your tank looks wonderful.

  18. Pingback: Sunday Post: Pets | this man's journey

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